It was a scene whose appearance was likely rivaled only by its smell: An Arizona man is facing animal cruelty charges after Yavapai County sheriff’s deputies, acting on a tip, discovered scores of dead or dying rats in and around a trailer, Reuters reports; a pen in the trailer's rear contained as many as 500 rats. Roughly a quarter were dead, said a sheriff’s department rep. When they and animal control officers arrived at the scene Monday, deputies were welcomed by the "overwhelming" stench of feces, urine, and decomposition, adds KVOA; the temperature inside the trailer was reportedly over 100 degrees. Newborn and adult rats found in a number of aquariums that contained food and water appeared fine, reports the Arizona Republic.
Jeffrey Wendorff, 28, who according to KVOA initially denied that he knew about the rats’ presence, was arrested on suspicion of cruel mistreatment of animals and cruel neglect and abandonment of an animal. Deputies say he ultimately admitted that he lived on the property rent-free in exchange for breeding the rats, but that his relationship with the property owner soured over money, causing him to take off a couple weeks ago, leaving the animals to their own devices. "As far as I know, (the rats are) probably all dead,” he told deputies. (Earlier this year, hundreds of dying snakes were found in a "house of horrors.")